17.10.2020 Author: Vladimir Platov

Qatar Draws Widespread Attention


Over the course of the last decade, Qatar’s media coverage was due to its role in staging and putting into motion a number of Color Revolutions. The country acted as a sponsor for training and preparation programs for influencers and bloggers on organizing mass protests via social media. In addition, according to multiple media reports, the Emirate’s authorities provided financial, strategic and technological assistance to Color Revolution activists in Egypt, Libya, Syria, carried out ideological and propaganda support with biased event coverage in these countries with the help of the Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera TV channel as well as other media. That aside, Doha lobbied in various regional and international organizations for the interests of Color Revolution activists to support military operations for regime change in the so-labelled “rebellious Arab states”. Qatar frequently acted in conjunction with the United States and certain Western states interested in such a regime change in unwanted countries, as well as with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which also actively participated in the events surrounding Arab Spring.

Although today the intensity of the Color Revolutions has somewhat dissipated, nevertheless, Qatar continues to finance militants from Syria, Libya and those of a number of other hot spots, as reported by the militants themselves to the Asia Times, complaining about decreased wages after arriving in Karabakh from Middle Eastern countries.

Interest in Qatar is far from waning even today, since its involvement in various conflicts, including regional ones, has not yet exhausted itself in the plans of the United States and its allies. And this is confirmed by the recent confessions by Qatar’s Minister of Defense, Al-Attiyah, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, who stated the reasons why Washington prevented Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt from invading Qatar in 2017 after they broke off relations with Qatar in June 2017 and accused this oil and gas rich country of supporting radical Islamists and Iran. “Trump abandoned his position in support of blocking countries as soon as he realized the importance of the strategic relationship between Qatar and the United States,” the minister said in his speech.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Timothy A. Lenderking also announced his intention to move even further in relations with Qatar in September, calling Qatar a major non-NATO ally. According to him, this status gives foreign states certain advantages in the defense trade and cooperation in the field of security.

So, at the end of September, news hit of the first foreign squadron of US space forces at the American base of El-Udeid in Qatar, where the first 20 servicemen of the new branch of troops already arrived. In the near future, they will be joined by several more people who, as noted by the American agency AP, will operate satellites, track enemy maneuvers and the sea vessel movements in the Persian Gulf, as well as participating in conflicts in space, should such instances occur.

Without a doubt, this step by Washington demonstrates not only its desire to increase US space force support in the Middle East, in order to resist Iran, strengthening its positions in Syria and Iraq, but also its intention to further strengthen strategic cooperation with Qatar. This is confirmed by the third round of negotiations between the United States and Qatar, which took place at the end of September in Washington, where a deal on the supply of arms to Doha for 26 billion dollars was discussed. The talks were held by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdur-Rahman Al-Thani. According to experts, the United States’ intentions are to join Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA), the possibility of which has already been announced by Timothy A. Lenderking, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs.

But Washington has recently been actively developing relations with Qatar not only in the military field. In Doha, Afghan conflict contact group meetings formed by the negotiating parties are continuing, which are still discussing the principles the parties should discuss. On October 5, Afghan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani arrived on an official visit to Qatar, where the first in several decades negotiations between the delegations of the Afghan government and the Taliban movement (banned in Russia) are underway. Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received the Afghan President at his working palace, where they discussed “possible ways to develop bilateral relations.” On September 12, peace talks started here between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with whom the US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has already met in Doha. Although Qatar is undoubtedly sympathetic to the representatives of the radical Taliban, to whom it previously provided a platform for the creation of an office, nevertheless, the arrival of the Afghan President in Doha is evidence of Qatar’s recognition as an even more important participant in the Afghan process than was expected six months ago.

For Washington, another important area of “strategic use” of Qatar lately became the latter’s participation in the White House’s recent policy of the so-called “deal of the century” towards recognition of Israel by the Arab states. The third strategic dialogue between the United States and Qatar, which took place on September 14-15, was dedicated to this topic, at the end of which Timothy A. Lenderking, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said: “Qatar has a track record of working with Israel that we think will eventually get them to a broader agreement with the Israelis.” “We think there’s a lot to build on, every country will move at its own pace on normalization, according to its own criteria, but we’re eager for that to happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

However, according to Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States, Mishaal bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emirate sees no problems in signing a peace treaty with Israel, but it will take such a step only after the recognition of Palestinian independence. Al Thani explained, as reported by The Times Of Israel, that Qatar is committed to the peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, according to which all Arab countries are ready to recognize Israel in exchange for Palestinian independence within the pre-1967 borders. “We believe in a two-state solution for the Palestinians and in securing Israel’s borders, and if these conditions are fulfilled, then we don’t see any reason for Qatar to not normalize relations with Israel,” the Qatari diplomat said.

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.